If you’re like most people, it’s the same scenario every year. The best intentions of resisting the holiday temptations are now a foggy memory. Often clouded by a month full of countless parties where over indulgence is the norm. But fear not! The New Year is just weeks away. As the calendar turns our resolve comes rushing back! It’s the opportunity for redemption that we embrace every year. However, the drive to make this year different can quickly fade if our goals are too generalized. Instead of falling back into the same rut by spring, take the time now to dig a little deeper and develop a game plan for year long success. Outlined below are 10 tips to guide you towards looking and feeling your best in 2016…and years beyond!
TIP #1 – BEGIN WITH GOAL SETTING
January rolls around and everybody wants to get into shape. But to have a successful year, saying “I want to lose weight” is not enough.
Goals need to be focused and realistic. A common acronym for goal setting is SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, reward-based and with a timeframe.
“I want to lose 20 pounds by June 1, and then I will get myself that new swimsuit” – this is a great example of a SMART goal.
Not only does it cover each component, but it is realistic as well. Since the recommended range for permanent weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week, a goal of losing 20 pounds in 5 months is honest and very achievable.
TIP #2 – TAKE ACTION
French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupry said it best: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Include five steps with each corresponding goal for the coming year. Steps should relate directly to your goals. Here’s how it looks using our weight-loss example:
SMART Goal: Lose 20 pounds by June 1
First action step: Get a gym membership in January.
Second action step: Do 45 to 60 minutes of cardio on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Third action step: Do strength training on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Fourth action step: Eat 4 to 6 small healthy meals/snacks per day.
Fifth action step: Drink 10 to 12 cups of water every day.
TIP #3 – FOCUS ON FITNESS
I always tell my clients it’s no coincidence that individuals who have the body we desire also happen to be in phenomenal shape.
Notice how the action steps stated earlier are mostly fitness related. The weight-loss journey can be an emotional rollercoaster; if getting in great shape becomes the primary focus, your body will be forced to conform. So, for every body image goal, include at least one to two fitness-related goals, too.
TIP #4 – FIND LONG-TERM MEANING
Giving your workouts a greater purpose, such as training for activities outside of the gym, can help you stay on track. It’s easy to skip a workout if you lack a specific purpose, but if a marathon or an intense ski trip are lurking around the corner, odds are you’ll stay focused on the goal and be consistent with your workouts.
TIP #5 – RE-EVALUATE YOUR GOALS
Once you accomplish a goal, establish a new one in its place to stay on the path to success. For example, let’s say you successfully ran a 5k in March. The next step could be running a 10k in June or another 5k with the goal of a faster time. Take time every two to three months to monitor your progress and determine if you need to modify any existing goals or add a new one.
TIP #6 – FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN EAT
Too many times when changes are made in our diet, we dwell on what we can’t eat. Reverse your mindset and focus on what you can eat – and how you can make that taste great. Examples would include good carbs like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats like fish and poultry. Also, cut out the pop and remember to drink lots of water every day.
For more nutrition information, check out The Harvard School of Public Health Web site: www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource. It’s a great resource to help you make the switch to a healthy lifestyle.
TIP #7 – PREPARE FOR OBSTACLES
There are always going to be bumps in the routine – the flu bug hits, in-laws pop into town, vacations, crazy work week, etc. Exercise doesn’t have to be all or none. You should have an “ideal” weekly structure to follow and a “minimum” exercise plan for weeks that are hectic or when you are just getting started.
TIP #8 – HAVE A RELIABLE WORKOUT PARTNER
This can be great for motivation and consistency. There is an accountability factor that goes with partnership and a tendency to work a little harder when someone is there to push you. It is critical that you pick someone that is a motivator, not an enabler.
TIP #9 – CONSIDER HIRING A PERSONAL TRAINER
The International Health and Fitness organization reports that 75 percent of people who exercise are not getting the results they want, but out of the 25 percent of people who are, 90 percent work with a personal trainer.
Hiring a professional takes the guess work out of what it takes to get the best workout. And working with a personal trainer isn’t limited to the rich and famous. Most training facilities offer a range of options that accommodate personal needs without breaking the budget.
TIP #10 – JUST DO IT
It may sound cliche, but remember you are in this for the long haul. A little of something each day is better than a whole lot of nothing. Vow to make just small, steady changes to your health habits in 2010 and stick to them – think of how great you’ll feel when 2016 rolls around.